When You Snooze, You Lose
We spend about a third of our life sleeping, yet little is known about this essential bodily function. What does sleep do, why do we need it, and what happens with too little or too much of it? While we are still not entirely sure why we need to sleep or what exactly it does to our bodies, a lot of research points to the perils of not getting enough, including the connection between sleep and weight loss.
While a small handful of people can function on as little as three hours of sleep, almost every adult requires eight hours. The average American now sleeps between six and seven hours a night – the sorts of levels which may lead to irritability, hypertension, memory lapses, and even heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The news gets even worse for those of us battling our weight.
A number of studies have shown that sleep deprived adults that get less than six hours of sleep a night gain weight, on average. The nightly sleep goal goes up to seven hours a night for the large number of us who are under stress. The correlation is due to factors we’ve previously discussed, the disruption of essential hormones like ghrelin, insulin, leptin, and cortisol, which affect our appetite and the mechanisms responsible for storing abdominal fat.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine studied two sets of people in tightly controlled environments that were trying to lose weight. One set logged 5.5 hours of sleep each night while the other logged 8.5 hours a night. While both groups lost weight, the group that slept longer lost more fat, while the one that slept less lost more muscle.
Calorie Count Users
Interestingly, we are able to compare some of these findings with average data collected from Calorie Count’s 2+ million member database.
Unsurprisingly, the average CC user sleeps 6.8 hours each night – right within the range for standard Americans.
Grouping users together by number of hours slept also reveals that CC users that sleep less, on average, lose a lower percentage of body weight and have higher BMIs. For example, users that sleep 7 hours a night have an average BMI that is 2% higher than those that sleep 8 hours a night, users that sleep 6 hours a night have an average BMI that is 3% higher than those that sleep 7 hours a night, and on and on.
These findings are similar to those from dozens of scientific studies; that is, the less you sleep the more likely you are to put on weight and the harder it is to take that weight off.
How many hours of sleep do you get? Do you notice a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain?
Calorie Count co-founder Erik Fantasia and his girlfriend, Heather Curtis, are currently traveling through South America as part of a trip around the world. You can follow their adventures online with Facebook and their blog.